Thursday, December 06, 2007

your blog's mini-me: try a blidget

Some of my clients worry that if they start a blog, they'll be scattering seeds in a field of dreams. "If I build it, will the readers come?" they wonder. Not without some effort to promote it -- but today's new tools and applications make it easier than ever to put your blog before potential audiences and draw them in. Widgets--easy-to-create windows to the Web that can be incorporated into your blog or website--offer just such a tool.

Widgets let you add counters, calendars and content generated by others to your website. (A popular example, Daily Puppy, lets you add a box to your website in which a new puppy picture will appear each day.) Now you can create a widget that features your own blog. That's called a "blidget," and if you have an established blog, you might create a blidget in these situations:

  • To share content with your customers, members or subscribers: A nonprofit membership organization might offer blidgets to local chapters with updated membership information from its blog, while an auto manufacturer could do the same with dealerships, whose websites might benefit from new-model updates. If your publication's editor also blogs, her insights might be offered in blidget form to subscribers for their websites; a textbook publisher might offer one to teachers and schools.. In this scenario, your blog becomes a value-added proposition for your audience: They get faster access to your material, and can offer it to their readers as free web content that's frequently refreshed. (Of course, you'll need to let them know the option is there for the taking.)
  • You just want to expand your blog's audience. Blidgets let you take advantage of one of the great phenomena of Web 2.0: the serendipity involved when people start exploring and finding sources they've never heard of before. Just by creating a blidget on sites like Widgetbox, your blog's "mini-me" is posted to a completely new set of readers. Widgetbox lets you tag your blidget to help its site's visitors find it in topical areas of interest to them.
  • Your audience is already on Facebook or other social media sites. Many widget- and blidget-creation sites offer options to create a Facebook application so your blog can be added to participants' pages, whether they're your "friends" or not. The option makes it easier for the active Facebook participant to see and share your blog without having to leave Facebook to do it. Think "reader convenience." (Search for "The Eloquent Woman blog" on Facebook and you'll find our Widgetbox application that you can add to your own page.)
Blidgets allow your reader to download the application while changing its format (say, to show only blog post titles, or titles with pictures, or titles and some text), color and size to better fit their own sites. From the readers' viewpoint, this is true customized publishing, and it's a big part of the appeal.

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